Former starting center Skura departs while Ravens trade for young tight end

0
365

Former starting center Matt Skura is leaving the Ravens to sign a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, according to agent David Canter.

The unrestricted free agent wasn’t expected to return after losing his starting job in the second half of the 2020 season, but Skura was easily one of the organization’s best player development stories in recent years. A 2016 undrafted free agent out of Duke, Skura went from spending his entire rookie year on the practice squad to starting for the better part of four seasons, a testament to his hard work as well as the tutelage of offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. Skura started 12 games in place of the injured Marshal Yanda at right guard in 2017 before moving to center the following year and starting 37 games at the position over the next three seasons.

The 28-year-old was in the midst of a career year in 2019 before a serious knee injury ended his season in late November and required a strenuous rehabilitation. Though returning to the practice field in time for training camp last summer, Skura struggled to regain his pre-injury form and ultimately lost his job in Week 11 after substantial struggles snapping the football in the shotgun and pistol formations. The 6-foot-3, 313-pound lineman finished out the 2020 season serving as an extra blocker on select plays while Patrick Mekari took over as the starting center.

It remains unclear who will start at center for the Ravens in 2021, but the free-agent signing of standout right guard Kevin Zeitler accompanies speculation that starting left guard Bradley Bozeman could move to the middle, the spot he played in his college days at Alabama. That would allow the likes of Mekari, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, and Ben Bredeson to compete for the left guard spot this summer, but general manager Eric DeCosta could add competition via next month’s draft.

On Thursday, the Ravens officially announced the acquisition of Jacksonville tight end Josh Oliver in exchange for a conditional 2022 seventh-round pick tied to whether he makes Baltimore’s 53-man roster. Oliver, a 2019 third-round pick from San Jose State, is considered an interesting and athletic talent at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, but injuries have limited him to just four games in his first two NFL seasons. He will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot behind Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle that wasn’t as impactful in 2020 after the trade of former first-round pick Hayden Hurst last offseason.

Oliver will compete with veteran Eric Tomlinson and 2020 rookie free agents Jake Breeland and Eli Wolf for that potential third tight end spot.